Our Letter to President Biden on Gaza, Oct 7th, and Democracy

Our Letter to President Biden on Gaza, Oct 7th, and Democracy

June 07, 2024

This week I sent President Joe Biden an important letter, asking him to make good on his own promise to end U.S. support of the siege on Gaza and for the return of all loved ones to all families by stopping our supply of offensive munitions to Israel.

In my letter, I addressed the horrors we witnessed exactly eight months ago today, Israeli and Palestinian captives, and the siege of Gaza. In doing so, I focused on why ongoing violence continues to put not only all Palestinians, Israelis, and the region as a whole in unspeakable danger, but also threatens our safety and democracy here at home.

Bend The Arc: Jewish Action is used to working with the White House, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Education on many issues, from countering antisemitism to protecting public education. What we’re not used to is commenting on foreign policy.

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We were founded at a time when those in the halls of power insisted that American Jews only cared about Israel. But while many of us do, it never was the only issue on our minds. We were tired of politicians skipping conversations with us about our well-being, and the well-being of our friends and neighbors, in order to only speak about Israel.

So we flipped the script and committed to fighting for the United States that Jews want to see, focusing on countering antisemitism, economic justice, transforming criminal justice, public education, immigration, housing — so that every American is safe and thriving. These are the issues most Jewish Americans check off as their top priorities in virtually every community survey and poll.

While other Jewish organizations made Israel and Palestine their focus, including organizations many of our members belong to, our approach was to bring in partners, far and wide, and have huge impacts on domestic policy. It gave us our focus. One we still believe in.

We’ve watched in anguish the violence across the past eight months, on October 7th, and many times before. Many of us have taken personal action across other groups. And in March we asked you — our base — some critical questions about how October 7th, and the events that have followed, have impacted your perspective at home and abroad. We learned, among many other things, that fully 85% of survey respondents supported calling for a bilateral ceasefire and a return of hostages.

We also saw that the violence began to threaten our entire domestic agenda. Why? Because the response to this conflict domestically ushered in calls for less free speech and fewer liberties, when we know our civil liberties are what keeps democracy strong — and strong democracies are what keep Jews and everyone safest.

The violence is also a direct threat to defeating Trump in November, a loss that could potentially usher in the end of democracy altogether.

Even amidst our grief, and with the cascading impacts of violence reaching us in the U.S., we are proud and inspired to stand alongside those who are marshaling moral and spiritual courage to meet this moment. Since we shared our letter earlier this week, we’ve already seen families of Israeli hostages join in calling more Jewish organizations to support the end of this siege, as well as the NAACP. They join some of our most trusted Jewish and non-Jewish partners in their call for an end to senseless, endless violence.

What I take from this are two clear understandings: we are not alone, and our safety and futures depend upon one another. I find deep hope and inspiration in this, and I hope you do as well.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jamie_Beran-2x.pngJamie Beran
CEO, Bend the Arc